JULIE wearing a hair band

0 images Created 29 Oct 2013

When I meet someone whom I am preparing to photograph for the first time I am on the lookout for something very special.

There’s an abundance of quick photography available out there on the high street but this type of conveyor belt imagery doesn’t interest me at all. Sure, you’ll get lovely pictures taken in a studio with better equipment and a better photographer than you’re used to at home but with an hour in which to meet you, photograph you and get you out again it doesn’t really stand a chance of grabbing something unique and compelling. I like to meet the people I photograph at least twice before shooting. I spend the time listening, mostly. I love finding out what lies beneath their practised exterior – the child that they’re afraid will be discovered beneath their grown up masks. And then photograph that. Reveal them in a true portrait. Introduce them to their friends. Surprise a few people. Upset one or two, maybe.

That’s why I love this picture of Jules – a single mum in her mid thirties who appears to have it all held together pretty well. But that’s nowhere near the truth. It took weeks to uncover this portrait with regular meetings to earn enough trust to allow me to take it. Whatever you feel about it: painful, compelling, awful, beautiful or awkward (perhaps all of these and more) it can’t easily be ignored. We took hundreds of pictures that day after this one was finished – they were a lot of fun but it is this picture that has emerged as her proudest achievement. It is raw, candid and honest beauty. It is also my proudest photograph to date. To see it full size is a bit disturbing. Excellent. That’s what I’m looking for: the real you.

Copyright | Gareth Barton 2013
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